Sagicor Foundation puts $2.5m in youth summer programme

July 26, 2022

After a two-year hiatus on account of the novel cornavirus pandemic, the University of Technology, Jamaica's (UTech) 'Teach the Youth' summer programme kicked off on Monday, with classes in four communities.

The programme, which is being hosted under the theme: 'Bridging the Gap; Rebuilding the Future', got a major boost with a $2.5-million sponsorship from Sagicor Foundation.

Students aged six to 18 from the communities of Tavern, Kintyre, Sandy Park and Highlight View will benefit from lessons in mathematics, English, Arts and culture, as well as sporting and motivational activities. Teach the Youth 2022 will culminate in a sports day when all participating centres will compete to be declared the winner of this year's activities.

Speaking at the launch held at UTech on Friday, July 15, branch manager, Sagicor Hope Road, Claudette Ramdanie noted that this year's theme resonates with Sagicor Foundation. The organisation is proud of the student leaders involved in the programme, she said, and plan to continue the initiative in communities close to the UTech campus.

Ramdanie pointed to the need for additional programmes similar in nature which will demonstrate to Jamaica's youth that there are people who care about their education and are willing to assist.

"Many young people in Jamaica want to learn, but resources and other roadblocks keep them behind in a regular school year. With a programme like this, we can foster growth and development in areas such as leadership and career development," Ramdanie reasoned.

She added that young people in the programme "will be one step closer to achieving their goals and becoming outstanding members of society".

President of the Students' Union Council, Tavoy Barrett in his address noted that despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the student body was cognisant of the important and positive role it has played in the lives of students in and around the UTech community over the years "through positive engagement, academic support and exposing the children to alternative recreational activities".

He encouraged the student leaders and other volunteers to continue to make selfless contributions where needed.

"Go back and give back. Provide time, effort and energy to the cause of doing good. Jamaica needs more of these initiatives to help young people realise that their struggles and their successes are understood and shared."

Student Services Assistant Registrar Dorset Gabbidon Pottinger highlighted the significant learning loss experienced by students generally during the pandemic and underscored the importance of the programme, especially at this time. She commended the volunteers for choosing to stay in Jamaica to deliver the programme when they could have taken the opportunity to earn from overseas summer employment engagements.

"I am so happy that you chose to stay in Jamaica. You could be in America earning some greenback, but you decided to be here. This is not for profit, this is not for pay — this is a recognition that our youngsters in the communities need your support. This is you exercising your social responsibility and I am so proud of you," the assistant registrar effused.

In her remarks, acting programme development strategist Ruth Lawrence urged the volunteers to see themselves as game changers. She encouraged them to exude a level of confidence as they enter and work in the various communities over the coming days.

"When you move into the communities you are likely to encounter some young people who think that they don't have anything to aspire to. You are there to transform their mindsets," Lawrence urged.

She pointed out that the inner city is the "pearl of any society" as it is often the place where the ideas to change the world are birthed.

"When you are in hard situations and circumstances, it will cause you to kick into gear that part of you that can change your space," she pointed out.

Since its inception in 1999 the Teach the Youth initiative has grown to accommodate approximately 600 pupils annually. The programme is delivered by volunteers from UTech and the National Youth Service, with the cost of delivering the programme undertaken by participating sponsors, and fund-raising carried out by student volunteers.

This year's sponsors are Sagicor Foundation, Purity Bakery, Jamaica Broilers, Food For the Poor, Jamaica Information Service, Esirom Ltd, Lasco Distributors and HEART/NSTA Trust.

For more information visit our Foundation page